US District Judge Lee Yeakel’s decision leaves intact the jury’s finding that Meta’s Facebook Live and Instagram Live live-streaming technology infringed two Voxer patents related to video streaming and messaging. Meta can still appeal the verdict to a higher court.
Representatives for Meta and Voxer did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.
San Francisco-based Voxer’s 2020 lawsuit said its representatives disclosed its patented technology to Meta, which was then Facebook, when the companies met in 2012 about a potential collaboration.
Voxer said Facebook cut it off from key features of the social media platform in 2013 and misused its technology in Facebook Live and Instagram Live, which launched in 2015 and 2016.
A jury found last September that Meta infringed the two patents, which relate to a method for streaming video and infrastructure for a video-messaging service, and awarded Voxer $174.5 million in royalty damages.
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Meta asked the court to overturn the verdict or hold a new trial. It raised several arguments, including that a reasonable jury could not have found infringement, the patents were invalid, the damages were unjustified, and Voxer’s lawyer had made “inappropriate comments” that biased the jury against Meta. Yeakel denied Meta’s requests Tuesday and said there was enough evidence to support the jury’s verdict.
Tax case in Italy
Meta faces a potential tax bill of around €870 million ($925 million) in Italy after prosecutors launched an investigation into the company, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter said on Wednesday.
The investigation was opened by Milan magistrates at the request of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO), which asked the Guardia di Finanza police and the Italian Revenue Agency to check if there is a case for user registrations to be subject to tax.
Neither the EPPO, which is based in Luxembourg, nor Meta were immediately available for comment.
News of an administrative tax audit into Meta was first published on Wednesday by Italian daily Il Fatto Quotidiano.
The two sources said investigators believe that free membership on Meta platforms comes in return for access to user data and should be classified as an exchange of services, therefore subject to VAT sales tax.